From Ice to Ocean: Sea-Level Rise to Ocean Health

James Balog, Photographer, Chasing Ice; and Founder, the Extreme Ice Survey, on the subject of “Global Warming and Human Responses” – interviewed by Roger Payne, Founder/President, Ocean Alliance 

Been a professional photographer, mountaineer, etc. Learned that glaciers were retreating at unbelieveable pace in Arctic and other areas.

Created Extreme Ice Survey: 31 cameras around the world photographing every 1/2 hr, watching the landscape change around the world

Sea level rise? Climate change is real and happening in many places. Particularly sea level rise. Ocean is rising about a foot minimum in 100 years. Increasing: Rate of sea level rise of past 20 years is double the rate of the last 100 years.

We’ll see far far more than a foot in the next 100 years based on increasing ice melt. Scientists expect to see up to 3 ft by the end of the century.

West Antarctic: Huge amount of ice, close to collapse, that could tremendously change that for the worst.

One of big impacts: Low-lying, oceanside areas like river deltas, are subject to inundation. Raise sea level a little, that all goes away. 150 million people are living in areas 3 ft or less above sea level. They’re all going to have to leave.

In Himalayas, people who depend on water downstream from Tibetan plateau have great connection with run-off. On south side, there’s tremendous water supply from monsoons.

In all parts of the world except for Karakoram in N. Pakistan, glaciers are retreating. Part of S. Asia is destabilized, while Pakistan and Kashmir are seeing little boost in water supply.

We have an enormous problem with perception; some truths are held to be permanent and immortal at any given moment. We need to accept that humans are dominant agents of change on the globe today. We’re responsible for changes in air, water, plants and animals.

New notion: We are altering things on a one-way course for a very long time. We have responsibility and great opportunity (green tech, etc) here.

Anthropocene: Homo sapiens are the dominant agent changing the world as we know it.

We’ve got a profound problem with telling stories. Operating within a mythic system that defines our way of life but don’t apply anymore. Making films reshape our human mythology. What gives pictures resonance is the conjuncture of arts and sciences that meshes with both right and left brain.

RP: Does alternate science, poetry act with his wife.

JB: We don’t have a science or economics deficit. We have a problem with perception.

Roger Payne, on the subject of “Ocean Toxins: Discoveries and Remedies” – interviewed by James Balog

I’ve gotten into the greater threat to whales than whaling. Whalers ignore the moratorium and win everything.

Pollution is the bigger threat: the ocean is downhill from everything and then chemicals wind up in sea. Insoluble in water, but very soluble in fats. Get into diatoms, plankton, tiny fish, bigger fish, sperm whales.

It takes 10X weight of food to produce an organism, so concentration of chemicals is multiplied by 10x at each level of the food chain.

When you’re eating a lb of fish at the sixth level of the food chain, it’s equivalent to using your liver to filter 50 truckloads of diatoms.

That contamination is passed on through breastfeeding, which adds up from generation to generation. The result is extinction in whales. Humans can avoid it by using formula.

Ocean Alliance took 5.5 year trip around the world; from 1000 sperm whales, and analyzed for contaminants. Found Organohalogens, which interfere with endocrine systems, toxic metals (Mercury, Chromium [as high as those found in workers who’d died of lung cancer after 20 years in plants], Nickel)

Looked at BP oil spill the moment it occurred, looking at evidence of contamination. Preliminary results; High concentrations of nickel, metal.

Federal government is lying: Bacteria didn’t do their job, it’s not known.

Have terrible trouble finding funding for this. BP would demand review of publications. Govt would give them money but can’t until litigation against BP is over. Essentially, there’s a gag order on science taking place in the Gulf.

About a billion people use fish as their primary source of animal protein. If you end up eating fish which are too polluted to be eaten safely, these contaminants are shortening the lives of a billion people.

The problem is on no radar of any country, but it’s probably about the biggest health threat out there, because it’s a threat to a billion people.

Lew Douglas: Do you disagree with findings about seafood that should be eaten by pregnant women?

RP: That doesn’t take contaminants into account.